Legislative Efforts in North Carolina… and beyond

A parent in North Carolina, James Ricker (Blog: http://www.beyondparentalalienation.com) contacted me to let me know about his work in North Carolina to change the child abuse reporting laws there.  He would like to share his wisdom and support with other parents – both in North Carolina and in other states – who may also be interested in pursuing a legislative solution to “parental alienation.”

The goal of legislative solutions is to achieve professional competence in the mental health assessment and diagnosis of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) as representing a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.  This DSM-5 diagnosis will set into motion a series of actions that will ultimately lead to the solution for all children and all families.

The Legislative Solution Approach

The biggest obstacle we face in solving “parental alienation” is the rampant professional incompetence in mental health surrounding the assessment and diagnosis of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

Yes, I know the legal system is broken.  But the key to fixing the broken legal system is to first fix the broken mental health system.  Once we fix the broken mental health system surrounding “parental alienation” (AB-PA), then mental health professionals will speak to the court with a single clear voice (a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed) that will allow the legal system to act with the decisive clarity necessary to solve “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

What’s more, once all mental health professionals begin assessing and accurately diagnosing “parental alienation” (AB-PA) as a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, we will then shift our focus to obtaining an appropriate child protection response from Child Protective Services.  Ultimately, the solution will be found in a collaboration of the mental health system and Child Protective Services.  First things first.  Step by step.

By seeking relatively minor, but important, changes in the child abuse reporting laws (such as the proposed legislation in Florida; HB 1279: Child Psychological Abuse and SB 1432: Child Psychological Abuse – thank you Representative Antone and Senator Torres), a clear message is sent to all mental health professionals regarding their professional obligations to appropriately assess and accurately diagnose the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA), and to file a mandated child abuse report with CPS when a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse is made.

These relatively minor, but important, changes to the mandated child abuse reporting laws will also provide clear legislative guidance to CPS agencies regarding their obligations to similarly protect children from the psychological child abuse of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

Note:  This approach is ONLY available if you use an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA). The Gardnerian PAS model does NOT provide this solution because the Gardnerian PAS model is too imprecise in its definition of “parental alienation” and remains controversial in professional psychology.

We cannot hold mental health professionals accountable to Gardnerian PAS.  We can hold mental health professionals accountable to an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).  The solution is through an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”  That’s exactly what AB-PA is designed to achieve.

I’ve heard that Susan Remus has coined the phrase, “pure Childress.”  While I don’t want to make this about me, it’s not about me it’s about your children, the idea is absolutely correct.  Pure AB-PA – will solve this pathology.

AB-PA, an attachment-based model of “parental alienation,” leads us out of professional incompetence and returns us to the path of established professional constructs and principles.  The Gardnerian PAS model just leads us back down into the quagmire of rampant professional incompetence.  In order to achieve the solution, we must remain 100% grounded in established psychological principles and constructs of professional psychology – as described in AB-PA and Foundations.

Legislative Efforts in North Carolina and Other States

In his efforts to create legislative change, James Ricker has met with many of the state legislators in North Carolina and he reports receiving a positive response.  He could also use some additional support from other parents, attorneys, and mental health professionals in North Carolina who recognize the problem of “parental alienation” and want to see it stop.  If there are other parents, attorneys, and mental health professionals in North Carolina who are interested in working with James on achieving a legislative solution, you can contact him at:  Email: james@beyondparentalalienation.com.

In addition, Mr. Ricker has offered to provide consultation and support to parents working in other states to achieve a legislative solution to “parental alienation” in their states.

I asked James if there was something he wanted to say in my blog, and here is some sage counsel and advice from him regarding working toward a legislative solution.  He begins briefly with his story, one I’m sure is familiar to many parents.  What his experience leads him to is the crucial understanding that all parents must work for each other in order to solve this for all children and all parents, not just for your child alone.  That’s the key; working for each other and for each others’ children.

This pathology seeks to keep you alone and helpless.  In coming together to work for each other, you will achieve the solution for all children and all families.

Here’s Mr. Ricker’s advice and counsel:

I separated from my ex-wife about 2 1/2 years ago.  So far, I have been cleared of four false allegations, three of them sexual abuse and one of providing an unsafe environment for my child.  The last investigation lasted two months and my child did not see their father at all.  Both CPS and the police found the allegations unwarranted, and even though CPS reported that “the mother has been attempting to alienate the minor child from their father” and told my ex that if she did not stop coaching our child she risked our child being removed from the home, my child still resides with their mother about 95% of the time, 6 months later.  My child has not had a single overnight with their father in over 2 years based on the first uninvestigated allegation.  I’ve just about spent myself into financial oblivion paying for therapists, evaluators and what legal help I’ve been able to afford.  I am just starting reunification therapy with a court ordered therapist, who miraculously had a copy of “Foundations” (Dr. Childress’s book) on her bookshelf and says she will be focused on getting my child and I back into a relationship.  I don’t know what that means, and for sure I recognize that even though this situation is better than many, it defies logic to me that my child remains in the care of their abuser even after it is clear they are being manipulated.  The knowledge I have gained through learning about AB-PA and the support from others that has shown up, as well as my focus on being present for my child during the times we are together have been very helpful.

But I can’t go through this knowing what I know without doing everything I can to try and prevent it from happening to others.  I had to find a way to direct my energy and make a difference.

I am currently speaking with several legislators about amending the child abuse reporting law in North Carolina, similar to what Suz Remus has been doing in Fla.  In fact, she and I communicate regularly and support each other.  I find having support is invaluable.  I want to offer support and materials to anyone who is trying to do something similar and am looking for anyone in NC—especially legal and mental health professionals who would be willing to contact the legislature and voice your support of this approach.  I can tell you who the major players in the legislature are to save the months it took me to figure it out. 🙂

Here are tips I have learned along the way:

    • Believe it or not, changing a law is not impossible.  Laws are created and changed based on the efforts of single individuals all the time.  I have a good friend who did it after she was sexually assaulted but because of the statute of limitations she could not press charges against her assailant when he was found.

One incredibly driven person, who could have let something like that destroy her, instead channeled that energy into being the driving force to change the law in her state so that it can never again happen. She has since helped change a second law at the state level as well.

  • I think the biggest issue is that people believe they can’t do something like help change a law.  They are so devastated by what is happening that they do exactly what the pathogenic parent wants them to do—feel helpless and alone.

Here are some of the things my friend (frankly I call her a heroine) told me about embarking on something like this as well as my own experience so far:

  • Get to the point quickly and clearly.  People are busy.  The time for emotional reactions is not in a legislator’s office.  Legislators cannot legislate feelings.  I have templates of materials I have been giving to them which have been getting very positive reactions.  Contact me (james@beyondparentalalienation.com) if you’d like samples.

  • Appreciate everyone you’re talking to.  While you want to speak with representatives, never underestimate the influence of assistants and interns, and anyone else you may meet along the way.

  • This is not about you.  It’s about changing the situation for others.  If you try and do something like this solely because you are trying to save your own child it will come across.  While you’ll likely get sympathy, it’s not likely you’ll get much beyond that.

  • Legislative bodies are comprised of individual people.  Make one connection at a time.  A bonfire can start from a single match.  Be the match.

  • Be polite, but be persistent.  You know this issue is important to you, probably more important than anything else.  But the people you’re speaking with can get 5, 10, or even more issues put in front of them every day.  Make a positive impression then remind them you’re there.

  • Send a handwritten thank you note.  No one sends letters or cards anymore.  They make a big impression.  Send one to any Legislative Assistants as well as Legislators you meet with.

Thank you James, for the gift of your wisdom and for your efforts to help all of the children and families who are caught in this horrible family tragedy.

The children of AB-PA are caught in the extremely difficult situation of having to live with the fragile and dangerous parenting of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  They’re doing what they have to do in order to psychologically survive with the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

We cannot ask the children to reveal their authenticity until we are able to protect them from the psychological retaliation that is sure to follow if the child reveals his or her love and authenticity toward the now targeted-rejected parent.

“Parental alienation” is not a child custody issue, it is a child protection issue.  We must first be able to protect the child.

That’s the truth that legislative efforts are trying to address directly.  This is fundamentally a child protection issue, and recognizing that fact is key to achieving the solution.  It is not simply a matter of “bad parenting” by the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent, it is psychologically abusive parenting.

Thank you to all the parents and grandparents, the aunts and uncles, cousins and family, thank you to all the recovered children for your voices, thank you to all the mental health professionals, all the legal professionals, all the legislators, and everyone in the media who are seeking to protect the children from the psychological child abuse of “parental alienation.”  Thank you.

We will not stop until all of your children are back in your arms once more.

“Parental alienation” is not a child custody issue, it is a child protection issue.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

3 thoughts on “Legislative Efforts in North Carolina… and beyond”

  1. Dr. Childress,
    Thank you for posting this. I have had six people contact me so far. I plan to make a list of each state and people who are working legislatively with this approach so we can make this process go smoother and quicker. Please- anyone who wants the sample info I have been giving out and if I can help please let me know.
    And of course anyone in NC, including Mental Health & Legal professionals …we need your voices!

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